Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $243 - $375 | Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros: Incredibly warm, big hood, windproof material, extra abrasion resistance
Cons: Heavy, not the highest quality down, wind can get in where hood detaches
Best Uses: Winter camping, Mountaineering, Ice climbing, any frigid expedition
The Chillwave is a slightly re-vamped version of the popular Sub Zero. If you need a serious jacket for extreme cold, this, like its predecessor, is a great option. The Mountain HardWear Chillwave has many functional features that make this a desirable jacket for mountaineering such as a longer fit, a large insulated hood, windproof material, and clever ways of sealing out wind and keeping in warmth. However that means that this jacket is not very lightweight and does not stuff down into a compact sack like other jackets in the category of technical parkas. If you are looking for a parka for every day use in the winter, consider The North Face Metropolis Parka Women's or the Mountain Hardwear Downtown Coat - Women's, which are still warm and extra stylish, but less heavy duty and less expensive. If you need a packable parka, check out our Editor's Choice winner, the Rab Neutrino Endurance Women's. To compare between the old and the new version, check out our write-up on the Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero Hooded SL Jacket- Women's.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Chillwave is extremely warm. It is one of the warmest parkas in this review and is ideal for cold, snowy, and windy conditions.
Comfort & Coziness
Like most of the other parkas, the fit of the Chillwave is longer than a typical down jacket, which protects more of your body from the elements.
We are not sold on the detachable hood. If it is necessary to wear a jacket that is this warm, a hood would be wanted as well, and it doesn't seem to add much functionality by being able to take it on and off. Some of the casual parkas have detachable hood, but they seem more likely to be worn without a hood than a technical parka such as this one. The zippered seam where it detaches is just another spot where wind can leak into the jacket. The velcro closure in the front of the hood is nice because it closes in front of your face to keep your chin warm, however a gap is left under the velcro and wind comes right in. It would be warmer and more functional if is actually sealed closed in some way in front of your face. If you want to save a bit of weight and do not like having a hood, this jacket is also sold as a non-hooded option, which makes the detachable hood even less necessary.
Style & Construction
Aside from the Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Hoodie Women's, the Chillwave is the only other parka that uses box-baffle construction. This allows the down to expand to its full loft, and eliminates cold spots at the seams. In general, this is a warmer construction method for jackets.
Another handy detail is the interior water bottle pocket, which is ideal for mountaineering when your water is likely to freeze, and it also helps to keep you warm when you slide a bottle full of recently boiled snow inside.
There are reinforced patches on the shoulders for added durability when wearing a pack. Overall this jacket holds up to a lot of hard use in the outdoors.
The 100% nylon 30D Ripstop AirShield fabric that makes up the outside of this jacket is windproof, keeping cold air from reaching your body. There is a drawcord inside the jacket around waist level that can be pulled tight to keep wind out and seal in even more warmth around your core. Velcro closures around the wrist cuffs serve the same purpose.
The old version of this jacket, the Sub Zero SL, uses a highly water resistant material that is missing from this re-designed version. The nylon fabric repels water slightly, but it is not as protective as the version made with Conduit SL.
Compactness & Weight
The Chillwave is one of the heaviest parkas reviewed weighing in at 1.94 lbs. By comparison, the Rab Neutrino Endurance Women's weighs 1.26 lbs. It does not stuff down into a pocket, though it fits in a rather large stuff sack. The Chillwave has a lower quality down than most of the other jackets which affects the compressibility. It uses 650 fill down rather than 800 fill down like the Rab Neutrino Endurance or the Patagonia Fitz Roy. This lower quality down is partly what makes the jacket so bulky and heavy, where if it was made with 800 fill down it would most likely be lighter but also more expensive.
For very cold conditions, mountaineering, alpine climbing, and as a belay jacket, the Chillwave is an excellent choice.
At $375 this jacket isn't cheap. However, you are paying for a thick and warm jacket with a windproof fabric that will offer great functionality and weather protection.
Mountain HardWear Chillwave Jacket - Women's
Mountain HardWear Chillwave Jacket Men's
Mountain HardWear Chillwave Parka Men's
— McKenzie Long
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: February 22, 2013
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